The rise of non-legal tools for lawyers

2nd September 2019

Imagine for a moment that you work in a business that’s not a law firm. Something that’s new or cutting edge, like a tech startup or digital agency. In that business, the technology you use – things like project management tools, client intake and scheduling systems, CRMs etc – looks like this:

It's free, or super affordable. It looks great. And best of all, it’s easy to use and easy to get started. Just sign up with an email, set a password, and away you go. And if you find that the software is not quite the right fit, export your data and just try another system (for free) until you find the one that works. No one locks in your data, ever.

In other words, your software experience is beautiful.

Now, if you work in a law firm, you’ll probably think that your software works OK – it “does the job”. Or, you might feel frustrated, like this group of solo and boutique practitioners who recently took their frustrations to an online forum:

“We have 934 members in this group. I say we all contribute $100 each and develop our own bloody system.” The typical response: “Put me down for $1,000!”

You see, a lot of lawyers feel that their legal technology is expensive (licence fees, consultant fees and even hosting fees), clunky to use and they dread the thought of switching systems because vendors make it hard or expensive to do so. And that's why there’s now an explosion of new legal technologies coming to market in an effort to address these failings.

But this new generation of legal tech is only just getting started, and they have a lot of catching up to do. The B2B software revolution driven by startup vendors outside the legal industry is more mature and is only getting better, and cheaper. Lawyers are now discovering these services, and are not waiting for legal tech to catch up.

Let’s go back to another question that was posted to that lawyer forum: “What do you use for project and workflow management?”

Responses included: Asana, Monday.com, Trello, WorkflowMax, Dubsabo – “it’s a gamechanger”. Of the 25 comments in that thread, not one person suggested legal practice management software, old or new.

So here’s the trend: one of legal tech’s biggest threats is the growing use of non legal solutions. They might not match 100% of the features that your legal-specific software has, but they might cover 80% of your needs, and do it better and cheaper.

To wrap up, there are tonnes of technology options out there, but the best way to cut through the noise is to get your hands dirty, try a few tools for real, run them side by side your existing systems to see how they stack up.

The providers that make this easy, affordable, and deliver a great user experience, whether they be legal-specific or generic tools are the ones that are destined to win the hearts and minds of lawyers.

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